Yemen is a humanitarian disaster as thousands of people have died, many from starvation or thirst, especially children, which according to a recent estimate 85,000 children have died of malnutrition:
An estimated 85,000 children under the age of five may have died from acute malnutrition in three years of war in Yemen, a leading charity says.
The number is equivalent to the entire under-five population in the UK’s second largest city of Birmingham, Save the Children adds.
The UN warned last month that up to 14m Yemenis are on the brink of famine.
It is trying to revive talks to end a three-year war which has caused the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Yemen has been devastated by the conflict. Fighting escalated in 2015 when a Saudi-led coalition launched an air campaign against the Houthi rebel movement which had forced President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi to flee abroad.
At least 6,800 civilians have been killed and 10,700 injured in the war, according to the UN. The fighting and a partial blockade by the coalition have also left 22 million people in need of humanitarian aid, created the world’s largest food security emergency, and led to a cholera outbreak that has affected 1.2 million people.
How did the charity work out the death toll?
It is difficult to get an exact number of deaths. Aid workers in Yemen say many go unreported because only half of the country’s health facilities are functioning and many people are too poor to access the ones that remain open.
Save the Children says it based its figures on mortality rates for untreated cases of Severe Acute Malnutrition in children under five from data compiled by the UN. According to conservative estimates, it calculated that around 84,700 children may have died between April 2015 and October 2018.
Rising food prices and the falling value of the country’s currency as a result of a civil war are putting more families at risk of food insecurity.
The UK-based charity blames the blockade for putting more people at risk of famine, with continued heavy fighting around the principal lifeline port of Hudaydah further exacerbating the situation.
The rebel-held port, through which the country has traditionally imported 90% of its food, has seen commercial imports fall by more than 55,000 metric tonnes a month, the charity says. This is enough to meet the needs of 4.4m people, including 2.2m children, it adds.
Save the Children said it had been forced to bring supplies for the north of Yemen through its southern port of Aden, which has significantly slowed down aid deliveries.
Nusair, a 13-month-old boy, is among the children suffering from severe acute malnutrition who is being closely monitored by Save the Children.
He was treated in August but by October his health had deteriorated again.
By that time he and his mother had been forced to relocate to a remote area due to increased fighting near their home and were unable to make the long trip to hospital.
“I can’t go to sleep, it is torturing, and I am worried about my children. I couldn’t live if any harm came to them,” his mother, Suad, told the charity.
What happens to the malnourished children?
The charity says that based on historical studies, if acute malnutrition is left untreated, around 20-30% of children will die each year.
“For every child killed by bombs and bullets, dozens are starving to death and it’s entirely preventable,” its Yemen director, Tamer Kirolos, says.
“Children who die in this way suffer immensely as their vital organ functions slow down and eventually stop. Their immune systems are so weak they are more prone to infections with some too frail to even cry.
“Parents are having to witness their children wasting away, unable to do anything about it.”
He further warned that an estimated 150,000 children’s lives were endangered in Hudaydah with “a dramatic increase” in air strikes over the city in recent weeks.
Isn’t Yemen already suffering from famine?
Not yet – but it’s getting close.
Just last month, the UN warned that half the population of the war-torn country was facing “pre-famine conditions”.
A country has to meet the following criteria to be declared in famine:
At least one in five households faces an extreme lack of food
More than 30% of children under five are suffering from acute malnutrition
At least two people out of every 10,000 are dying every day
The UN said – based on assessments from a year ago – the first two thresholds had either been exceeded or was dangerously close in 107 of Yemen’s 333 districts. But the third threshold about numbers of deaths was more difficult to confirm. The organisation is currently repeating the assessments.
What’s the latest with the conflict?
UN envoy Martin Griffiths arrived in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Wednesday for talks with the Houthi rebels in a bid to lay the groundwork for peace talks in Sweden.
It comes after a lull in violence was broken on Tuesday, with intense fighting erupting between the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels in Hudaydah.
On Monday, the UK presented a draft resolution to the UN urging an immediate truce in the port city and giving both sides of the conflict a two-week deadline to remove all barriers to humanitarian aid.
This entire war exists because it is a proxy war between the US and Russia. The Yemenis, who are majority Shiite, are hated by the Sunni Saudis. The Shiites are backed by Iran but also Russia in that area, and the Saudis are backed by the US because of the oil relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia- Saudi Arabia sells the US cheap oil, and the US sells them cheap food and cheap weapons.
This war, which has been going on since Obama, has not been stopped but has been increased by Trump, who continues to supply weapons to Saudi Arabia for this war. The interesting part is that the conflict started because of the overthrow of Yemen’s president Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi in 2014, who was considered a US ally.
The entire Yemeni conflict is essentially one over allies. Just as when the US overthrew the legitimate government of Guatemala in 1954 for the benefit of the United Fruit Company as a part of Operation PBSUCCESS because it was believed to be in the “national interest,” so has been the justification for war and the subsequent murder and deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and the absolute destruction and impoverishment of what is already a poor nation.
Yet in spite of all of the death and destruction, there is almost complete silence from the world.
In the 1984 edition of A Christmas Carol, Dicken’s protagonist Ebenezer Scrooge played by English actor George C. Scott famously responds to a request to give charity to the poor that “if they would rather die, they had better do it and decrease the surplus population.”
Indeed it is true that one cannot solve all of the problems in the world. But if this were in a western nation, would such a treatment of people be tolerated?
It would not be tolerated. It would result in a national crisis and likely a war with the nation that allowed this to happen.
It is similar to North Korea. Why has nothing been done about North Korea, knowing they are a weak and feckless state, other than because the status quo exists for reasons of political power, and nobody cares about the effects that one’s actions have on those who are affected?
Jesus consistently warns that not only will all men have to render an account of their lives and actions, but also that what one did “to the least of them,” that was also done to Christ. What is one to say of those who support immoral wars for profit, create conflict for gain, or allow for conflicts to continue without any attempt to stop or mitigate them
What excuse does one make for allowing a humanitarian disaster like Yemen to not merely happen, but continue with the same intensity and no attempts to mitigate its effects?